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Unicode Demystified: A Practical Programmers Guide to the Encoding Standard [Paperback]

Richard Gillam
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 34.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Sep 2002 0201700522 978-0201700527 1

Unicode is a critical enabling technology for developers who want to internationalize applications for global environments. But, until now, developers have had to turn to standards documents for crucial information on utilizing Unicode. In Unicode Demystified, one of IBM's leading software internationalization experts covers every key aspect of Unicode development, offering practical examples and detailed guidance for integrating Unicode 3.0 into virtually any application or environment. Writing from a developer's point of view, Rich Gillam presents a systematic introduction to Unicode's goals, evolution, and key elements. Gillam illuminates the Unicode standards documents with insightful discussions of character properties, the Unicode character database, storage formats, character sequences, Unicode normalization, character encoding conversion, and more. He presents practical techniques for text processing, locating text boundaries, searching, sorting, rendering text, accepting user input, and other key development tasks. Along the way, he offers specific guidance on integrating Unicode with other technologies, including Java, JavaScript, XML, and the Web. For every developer building internationalized applications, internationalizing existing applications, or interfacing with systems that already utilize Unicode.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (16 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201700522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201700527
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 18.5 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

"Rich has a clear, colloquial style that allows him to make even complex Unicode matters understandable. People dealing with Unicode will find this book a valuable resource."

--Dr. Mark Davis, President, The Unicode Consortium

As the software marketplace becomes more global in scope, programmers are recognizing the importance of the Unicode standard for engineering robust software that works across multiple regions, countries, languages, alphabets, and scripts. Unicode Demystified offers an in-depth introduction to the encoding standard and provides the tools and techniques necessary to create today's globally interoperable software systems.

An ideal complement to specifics found in The Unicode Standard, Version 3.0 (Addison-Wesley, 2000), this practical guidebook brings the "big picture" of Unicode into practical focus for the day-to-day programmer and the internationalization specialist alike. Beginning with a structural overview of the standard and a discussion of its heritage and motivations, the book then shifts focus to the various writing systems represented by Unicode--along with the challenges associated with each. From there, the book looks at Unicode in action and presents strategies for implementing various aspects of the standard.

Topics covered include:

  • The basics of Unicode--what it is and what it isn't
  • The history and development of character encoding
  • The architecture and salient features of Unicode, including character properties, normalization forms, and storage and serialization formats
  • The character repertoire: scripts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and more, plus numbers, punctuation, symbols, and special characters
  • Implementation techniques: conversions, searching and sorting, rendering, and editing
  • Using Unicode with the Internet, programming languages, and operating systems

With this book as a guide, programmers now have the tools necessary to understand, create, and deploy dynamic software systems across today's increasingly global marketplace.



0201700522B08092002

About the Author

Richard Gillam is a senior development engineer at Trilogy, a leading developer of large-enterprise e-commerce solutions. He is a former member of IBM's Globalization Center of Competency, where he was one of the original designers of the open-source International Components for Unicode and was responsible for several of the international frameworks in the Java Class Libraries. Rich is a former columnist for C++ Report, a regular presenter at the International Unicode Conferences, and a Specialist Member of the Unicode Consortium.



0201700522AB08092002

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Unicode is fun. 17 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you thing unicode and encoding in general is a boring subject, this book may change your mind.
Crystal clear and amusing.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to understand the Unicode standard? Start here! 2 April 2003
By Shlomo Yona - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book has three main parts:
(1) Unicode in essence: an architectural overview of the Unicode standard (six chapters) where you also get bits of terminology and history.
(2) Unicode in depth: A guided tour of the character repertoire (six chapters) where you get a lot about writing systems that can be represented in Unicode, and less about the Unicode characters.
(3) Unicode in action: implementing and using the Unicode standard (five chapters) where you get information aimed at computer programmers that wish to implement parts of the standard or write applications dealing with multilingual text.
Though this book is very long (~800 pages) it is still shorter and a lot more clear than the Unicode standard itself (over 1000 pages).
Code examples are in Java but they are not ment to be complete solutions and so there is no accompanying website or a CD.
Professional programmers are the target audience of this book. The reader is faced with many topics in linguistics, history and data structures. Readers with computer science background would probably appreciate how classic traditional algorithms were adapted and how data structures are used in character sets with a significantly larger number of character than 256.
The author of the book states that the book is about "representing written language in a computer", which may be misleading to some readers. The book is about the Unicode standard. Obviously, there are many other ways to represent written language other than the methods described in the book. As chapter 2 teaches... There are always more ways (sometimes better ways) to represent your data.
Part 2 of the book will not cover every writing system of the world. A better book for that would be "The world's writing systems".
Part3 is probably the most interesting and useful part for programmers (though the first part is important, in my opinion to those who want to UNDERSTAND Unicode).
You can learn about a lot of things and skip many too (depending on your interest and need). I believe that most readers will skip most of the topics.
This is not a book that is read lightly, but it is hellovalot easier and more fun to read than the Unicode standard itself. It appears that once you read this book and get what you want from it, you will end up going to read the Unicode standard only to see updates, hopefully, not for clarifications.
I am dealing with Natural Language Processing and being a Hebrew speaker I also have a lot of text in Hebrew (almost all the time it is Hebrew with other languages too, e.g. documents that contain Hebrew with some English). This book helps understand the difficulties, the current implementations and give you a solid ground to start thinking how you can make things better. Current infrastructure for Hebrew is either poor or not perfect and in most cases the better solutions are proprietary. There seems to be always problems representing 'plain' text in more than one language without stepping into the trap of the soup of different ways to do it. Unicode is one way to do it (arguably, not the best, yet it is alive and growing) I hope this book can help more people understand what they are up against, clear the fog and help people do better implementations.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Companion Volume to the Standard Itself. 7 Aug 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is an outstanding companion volume to the Unicode standard. In fact, if you had to pick one, you'd quite possibly be better off owning this book INSTEAD of the standard. The author display an impressive knowledge of the world's writing systems and of the inner workings of the Unicode standardization process.
Part I of this book starts with the history of character encoding standards, from Morse code to today. It then presents a thorough review of the Unicode architecture and associated standards. The information presented was mostly excellent, although I found the section describing SCSU a little bit too sketchy (and the actual code in part III not entirely satisfactory to fill in the gaps).
Part II gives an overview of the various writing systems and character ranges represented in Unicode. Even for a nontechnical audience, this part would be fascinating with all the typographical and historical trivia it presents.
Part III discusses various algorithms applicable to text processing in a Unicode context. I must admit that I found this part a bit of a letdown. Many of the algoritms are only sketched out because discussing them in detail would be beyond the scope of the book. Quite possibly, the pages dedicated to these algorithms would have been better spent presenting examples of code using the various existing APIs for handling Unicode (Java, ICU, Perl, Windows, MacOS X).
This does not take away from the fact that this is a great book that any programmer interested in Unicode should own.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great manual for the practical use of Unicode 18 Nov 2002
By Markus Scherer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Unicode Demystified is a great manual and a good read. It earns a place on the bookshelf of programmers who deal with modern text processing, which is based on the Unicode standard. It is a great resource for anyone involved in software internationalization and localization.
Gillam provides a lot of useful details, history and explanations for the structure of the character set, and shows how to use it. The book is a companion to the print and online resources of the Unicode standard itself, and provides the glue to many of the pieces, the how-to's and basic data structures.
For example, the Unicode encodings UTF-8/16/32 (and BOM) are explained very well, bidirectional text is discussed with a lot of insight, and the family of Indic scripts with their special features is presented with examples for how to encode Indic text.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book if you want to understand Unicode 22 Jan 2003
By M. Richard Ishida - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I find this book extremely useful!
This is almost three books in one. The first part provides a very good introduction to Unicode in general. The middle is really useful for all sorts of people, from linguists to content authors who want to understand the scripts encompassed by Unicode. And the last part is extremely helpful for programmers who want to understand how to implement many text processing techniques using Unicode.
Throughout, Rich's style is easy and enjoyable to read, and yet quickly gets to a wealth of useful information.
Great job! Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to Unicode for programmers 17 Dec 2012
By a reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For an introduction to Unicode, you can choose between the books by Gillam, Korpela, and Haralambous. Gillam writes for programmers, augmenting description of the Unicode standard with practical advice on designing code to process Unicode text. Korpela focuses on how to use Unicode in office applications, primarily on Windows. Haralambous is an extensive treatise on the management, use, and innards of fonts, with a brief survey of the organization of Unicode.

Gillam is a bit dated now, but still much easier to get started with than the Unicode Standard. I read all three books, but as a programmer, I found only Gillam helpful.
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